Nordan is a respectful sampling of sacred Swedish folk music, whereby Ale Möller shows off his strengths as a multi-instrumentalist and arranger for a record label that fits him like a glove: the equally chilling and crisp ECM from Germany. The album showcases material laid down hundreds (if not thousands) of years earlier, tapping the veins of medieval folklore as it speaks through the voice of the fisherman's wife, the exiled brother, the shepherd, the knight, and various other historical archetypes. Lena Willemark fuels these various tall tales with a gorgeous voice and accomplished fiddle playing, along with an ensemble of half a dozen other musicians. Her playing smolders at various points on the disc (but especially so on the brief instrumental "Jemsken"). In addition, it almost goes without saying that Manfred Eicher further serves the material with his faithfully minimalist production values, emphasizing the natural sounds of the dulcimer, accordion, mandolas, percussion, drone fiddles, and double bass. Consequently, the music has a timelessness to it, and a legitimacy that would certainly perish if there were any attempts to make it "hip" (perhaps the alto saxophone would be the only guilty party). The disc closes simply and beautifully with "Drömspår -- Efterspel," a prayer on Möller's accordion that drifts under the northern lights, somewhere out at sea. Its impact lays in its simplicity. By playing it straight, Nordan preserves something more intimate than history -- it revives the thinning fires of legend and myth.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Glenn Swan